Crab looking Martians
(The Wreck of the Mars Adventure, by David D. Levine)
The natives somewhat resembled crabs – man-sized crabs with only four limbs, drawn out lengthiwise and walking about on their hind legs. But though they had two arms and two legs, those limbs bent in all the wrong places, and both limbs and body were covered with a hard shell that shades from white on the belly to the same red-ochre as the sand on the back. There was no distinct head, only a bulge at the top of the torso from which sprouted two black eyes on flexible stalks, like a lobster’s and a vertical mouth like the working end of a blacksmith’s pincers. Each hand resembled a crab in itself, the fingers tipped with vicious-looking claws.
Their clothing. Note the colors and patterns – very sophisticated. Somewhat reminiscent of Persian carpet. And especially that one in the center, the one with the hat. He appears to have jewelry at his shoulders and wrists…. Each natives carried a long, thing sword, curved like a Persian shamshir, thrust scabbardless through his belt; smaller blades, likewise slim and curved, were also in evidence. They gleamed in the pale sunlight.
The Martians, he noticed, had wide flexible feet well suited for waling on sand; their lower garments were loose pantaloons like the Hindoos’, cuffed at the knee, leaving the red-carapaced lower legs bare.
The Martian with the hat stepped forward from the rest. Hi had a distinct but not unpleasant odor, something between horses and cinnamon, and the bright metal fixed to his carapace at several points had the appearance of real gold. Chittering and clattering in his own languages, he pointed on chitinous hand up to the sky, then swept it downward in a gesture that encompassed the Mars Adventure, the Englishmen, and the Martians as well. Then he stood silent, with folded hands.
“Perhaps we should show him the Bible?” Kidd suggested. “He waved up at Heaven…”
“I’ve no better notion,” Sexton confessed. Kidd handed him the heavy book, and he opened it to Genesis”. “This is our most sacred book,” Sexton said to the native, presenting it reverently, “and this is the story of the creation of the universe”.
The Martian took up the book, examining it on all sides with chittered commentary to his fellows. He ran crab-leg claws down the columns of text, as though reading, and tapped delicately at the leather cover and spine. He held the Bible close to his face, the eyes bending in together in a most disturbing manner.
Then, to Kidd’s horror, he slowly and deliberately tore out a page, folded it, and crammed it between his hideous jaws.
Weird Martians in the Fog. Illustration : Megan Jorgensen